Updated story. At its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, the Weston school board tabled “indefinitely” any discussion or decision regarding sharing space at Hurlbutt Elementary School — specifically the North House portion of the school — with the town.
The board had been expected to talk about and vote on offering part of North House for municipal use. Because of projections of continued declining enrollment in the district at the younger grade levels, the board had been considering allowing the town government to use the space.
There was talk of moving the Weston Senior Center, currently located in South House at Hurlbutt, to North House so that South House could be converted back to usable classroom space. Whether other town offices could be located at the elementary school was expected to be a part of the discussion.
But the recent incident at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in which 20 young children and six adults were killed by a gunman, who also killed his mother and himself, changed the board’s decision to relinquish the space.
The meeting opened on a somber note as Phil Schaefer, school board chairman, called for a moment of silence for the victims and their families. “The board is reflective of this tragedy,” he said, misty-eyed.
In her district update report, Superintendent Colleen Palmer said the schools had sent furniture and supplies for Newtown to use at the school’s temporary heaquarters in Monroe.
“As we think about Newtown, our hearts have been broken. We sit here tonight and say it could have been any of us,” Dr. Palmer said.
On the subject of North House, she said what happened in Newtown changes how the district looks at the schools. “We must reflect on this with our new lens,” she said.
While she said she does not fear sharing school space with the town, she said she has to consider the emotional impact on the students and their psychological well-being. She recommended the board “table indefinitely” the North House issue.
A motion to do so, made by board member Denise Harvey, was approved unanimously.
This brought applause from many members of the public in attendance.
During public comment after the vote, Weston parent Tim Lawler presented the board with a petition with 185 signatures asking the board to postpone its decision to share the North House space with the town.